State Highlights: Texas Abortion Clinic To Reopen After Ruling; Maine Medicaid Cuts
A selection of health policy stories from Texas, Maine, California, Wisconsin, Massachusetts and Louisiana.
The New York Times: Texas Abortion Clinic To Reopen After Ruling
An embattled abortion clinic in McAllen, Tex., which was the last provider of abortions in the vast Rio Grande Valley when new state restrictions forced it to stop last fall, will start operating again by this weekend, its owner said Wednesday, after last week’s favorable decision by a federal judge (Eckholm, 9/3).
Reuters: Texas Abortion Provider To Reopen After Court Lifts Restrictions
An abortion provider in the south Texas border city of McAllen will reopen in the next few days after a federal judge last week ruled as unconstitutional state restrictions that led to its closure. Whole Woman's Health said on Wednesday it has started to take appointments for its clinic in McAllen. The clinic had been closed under abortion restrictions in Texas that went into effect at the end of last year. The clinic stopped performing abortions in November and closed in March (Herskovitz, 9/3).
Texas Tribune: Battle Over Abortion Law Heads To Federal Appeals Court
Texas abortion providers’ next hurdle in their legal fight against strict abortion regulations is set for next week in a hearing scheduled for federal court. State attorneys and lawyers representing a coalition of abortion providers will face off on Sept. 12 in New Orleans, where the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals will consider whether to allow Texas to enforce a key provision of a new law that the providers say would lead to the closure of most abortion clinics in the state. The provision -- which was struck down last week by a federal judge -- would require abortion facilities to meet the same standards as hospital-like ambulatory surgical centers, including minimum sizes for rooms and doorways and additional infrastructure like pipelines for anesthesia. Supporters of the new law say it's about women's safety (Ura, 9/3).
Kaiser Health News: Maine Rolls Back Health Coverage Even As Many States Expand It
Maine Gov. Paul LePage's decision to shrink Medicaid instead of expanding it was a radical departure from a decade-long effort to cover more people in this small rural state of farmers, lobstermen, craftsmen and other seasonal workers, which at least until recently, boasted one of the lowest rates of uninsured in the nation. Maine was the only state in New England, and one of 21 nationally, to decline federal money to expand Medicaid under the federal law. In most of those states, Republican lawmakers or executives argued that Congress could withdraw the health law’s funding and that their states couldn’t afford the expense. Many also objected to expanding a program they regard as broken (Rabin, 9/4).
California Healthline: Medi-Cal Autism Coverage To Start Soon
In a draft plan for providing autism therapy to Medi-Cal beneficiaries, state officials tentatively set a date of Sept. 15 for the services to begin. Medi-Cal is California's Medicaid program. That is big news for low-income families of roughly 4,000 to 6,000 children in California who have need of the medically necessary, standard-of-care treatment known as applied behavior analysis -- or ABA therapy, said Kristin Jacobson, president of Autism Deserves Equal Coverage, a statewide advocacy group based in Burlingame (Gorn, 9/3).
Related KHN coverage: Federal Officials Order Medicaid To Cover Autism Services (Andrews, 8/26).
Los Angeles Times: Why A 3% Benefits Surcharge? Suzanne Goin, Josiah Citrin, Josh Loeb Explain
Josiah Citrin's Melisse and Suzanne Goin's Lucques, The Larder restaurants, Tavern and the new AOC are just the latest in a group of Los Angeles restaurants implementing a 3 percent employee benefit surcharge to all guest checks. … If customers have a problem with the surcharge, they can adjust their tip percentages to subtract the 3 percent or ask to have it removed. The restaurants will provide information on what the money is being spent on and will save any extra funds for future healthcare costs. Goin says she was thinking about health care for her employees even before the Affordable Care Act, which requires businesses that employee more than 100 to provide health benefits to full-time employees by 2015. Her restaurants were already paying for full benefits for managers and partial benefits for employees (Harris, 9/3).
Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel: Black Health Coalition Loses $750,000 Healthy Start Funding
The Black Health Coalition of Wisconsin has lost a $750,000-a-year federal Healthy Start grant the agency uses to reduce the wide racial and ethnic disparities in Milwaukee's infant mortality rate. Milwaukee's infant mortality rate is among the worst in the nation. In Milwaukee, black infants are about three times more likely than white infants to die before reaching their first birthdays. The decision by the federal Department of Health and Human Services to no longer fund the coalition's Eliminating Racial and Ethnic Disparities Program was unexpected (Stephenson, 9/3).
Boston Globe: Full Of Ideas, Don Berwick Looks For Traction
Though his background is wider-ranging than any Democrat in the race, and though he has the most distinctive policy positions, [Don] Berwick is trailing far behind Martha Coakley and Steve Grossman. Polls show 65 percent of likely voters in Tuesday's primary don't even know who he is. A rumpled 67-year-old pediatrician from Newton who does crossword puzzles before bedtime, Berwick launched the Institute for Healthcare Improvement in Cambridge in 1991. The $40 million nonprofit helps governments and hospitals around the world reduce medical errors and improve care. In 2005, he earned knighthood for helping an entire country, Britain, overhaul its troubled health care system. And from 2010 to 2011, he ran Medicare and Medicaid for President Obama (Levenson, 9/3).
Reuters: Rural Hospitals Pressured To Close As Health Care System Changes
In January, Linden, Texas native Richard Bowden suffered a mild stroke. Within minutes, medics had taken the 68-year-old to the local hospital emergency room, less than a block from his house. ... Shortly after returning home, Bowden learned he would outlast the hospital itself: the facility was about to close because there weren't enough patients. ... Small, rural hospitals like Linden have always struggled to remain viable, but things are getting worse, fast. Rural communities are shrinking at a time when healthcare providers are being pressured to cut costs and release patients sooner. Twenty-four rural hospitals have closed across the country since the start of 2013, double the pace of the previous 20 months, according to the North Carolina Rural Health Research Program (Respaut, 9/3).
The Associated Press: Want An Early C-Section? Louisiana Medicaid, Blues Won't Pay
Officials say a major insurance company is joining Louisiana Medicaid in refusing to pay for early C-sections or induced deliveries unless a doctor says they're needed for a mother's or baby's health. Officials from Blue Cross and Blue Shield joined state health Secretary Kathy Kliebert on Wednesday to say the company is no longer covering early deliveries scheduled by choice rather than medical need. Louisiana's Medicaid program began refusing to cover such deliveries in July. South Carolina's Medicaid and Blue Cross made similar changes two years ago (9/3).